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Bosnia and Herzegovina: Austro-Hungarian Sarajevo

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Austro-Hungarian Sarajevo | Bosnia and Herzegovina | Europe

[Visited: May 2014]

Before coming to Sarajevo, I did not have an image of what the city would look like. Famous for being the place where archduke Franz Ferdinand was killed in 1914, an event that sparked World War I, the Olympic Winter Games of 1984, and the 3,5 year siege of the city from 1992 to 1995, the city certainly held a historic ring. I had heard friends tell me enthusiastically about the city, but when I walked out of my central hostel on a sunny morning, I did so with an open and curious mind. Sarajevo soon turned out to be a unique, beautiful city, bearing clearly visible signs of it being at the crossroads between the East and West, or, as the Bosniaks would say, the most western city of the East, and the most eastern city of the West.

Picture of Austro-Hungarian Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina): The Latin Bridge, famous for being the spot where Gavrilo Princip killed Franz Ferdinand, sparking World War I

Its western appearance was given to Sarajevo during the period when the Austro-Hungarians ruled the city. The more you walk around in the city, the more you see buildings that remind you of its rich history. In Sarajevo, you can walk from Istanbul to Vienna, and Budapest, in a matter of minutes. The Ferhadija street has a high concentration of classical buildings, and so have the riverbanks of the Mijacka: in order to tame the river, the Ottoman buildings on both sides were destroyed in the late 19th century, and replaced by remarkable edifices of Austro-Hungarian design. Despite the terrible destruction inflicted on this capital during the siege, many of these buildings are still there; many were repaired.

Picture of Austro-Hungarian Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina): The National Library sits right on the banks of the Miljacka river and combines classical with Moorish elements

One primary example of such a building is the National Library, a colossal, red-yellow building with classical and Moorish styles blended into one. It was deliberately destroyed during the war, and it is finally back to its former glory. It was finished when I was there, but not yet open to the public. I walked the river banks, to see buildings such as the University rectorate and the Post Office, both richly adorned with sculptures. Of course, the Latin Bridge, close to which Franz Ferdinand was killed. There is a school building which resembles a smaller version of the Parliament building of Budapest. Walking up to Petrakijina street, where I found a row of remarkable buildings with small towers, sculptures, stairs, and an elegant appearance, considered the best examples of Austro-Hungarian residential houses in Sarajevo. The first one, Villa Mandić, subsequently housed the US consulate, the British ambassador, and the museum of the XIV Olympic Winter Games, but it was partly destroyed by fire in 1992, and looks abandoned right now. A little higher up, the Heinrich Reiter and the Herman Radisch Villa are all fine examples of early 20th century architecture from the Austro-Hungarian period.

Picture of Austro-Hungarian Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina): Hermina Radisch villa is one fine example of Austrian influence in the architecture of Sarajevo
Picture of Austro-Hungarian Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina): The entrance of Villa Mandić, where the Museum of the 1984 Olympic Winter Games was once housed
Picture of Austro-Hungarian Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina): Balcony with sculpted head on a building in Sarajevo
Picture of Austro-Hungarian Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina): The National Library building, badly damaged in the Bosnian War, has been restored to its former beauty
Picture of Austro-Hungarian Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina): Sculpture of a feminine figure on a building on the Miljacka riverbank
Picture of Austro-Hungarian Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina): Richly decorated facade of a building in downtown Sarajevo
Picture of Austro-Hungarian Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina): Female statue on a facade on a classical building on the Miljacka riverbank
Picture of Austro-Hungarian Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina): Close-up of the tower and roof of the Heinrich-Reiter villa
Picture of Austro-Hungarian Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina): Statue on top of a building in downtown Sarajevo
Picture of Austro-Hungarian Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina): The Academy of Arts on the river bank of the Miljacka reminds one of the Parliament building in Budapest
Picture of Austro-Hungarian Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina): Classical building housing the PVPŠC school on the banks of the river Miljacka
Picture of Austro-Hungarian Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina): Close-up of the statues on top of a building in the centre of Sarajevo
Picture of Austro-Hungarian Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina): Classical building with remarkable windows

Around the World in 80 Clicks

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